Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Attacus atlas (Snake's head moth) at Umajati Retreat

Two months ago we found a large caterpillar eating the leaves of a ginger plant in the Umajati garden. It was an Attacus atlas caterpillar and over the weeks of devouring leaf after leaf it was about 15 centimeters in size. In Bali they are known as Kupu Kupu Barong or the Barong moth. We called her/him Charlie or Charlene. This moth is one of the largest Lepidoptera in the world.

After about 3 - 4 weeks of eating she spun a lovely brown cocoon. At Threads of Life ( we work with people in Java who harvest these cocoons and have them spun into thread and woven as cloth which we then use for backing pillows. 

This morning after several weeks of wondering if the cocoon was full or empty we awoke to find our beautiful moth had not only hatched but was already mating!

The moths are have about a 20 cm wing span. The female is bigger than the male it appears. We have read that after they mate and the female lays her eggs that they will die within a few days. Nyoman, one of Umajati staff, says that when he was young he remembers seeing one of these but they have become rare.

If you look at the wing tips they appear to be snake heads! A wonderful protection against predators. 

We are all so excited at Umajati and hope that there will be more of these gorgeous moths in the months to come and one of you will be with us as a guest and can see this amazing sight.

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